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Providing customer experience through siloed functions is no longer helpful. An organization-wide customer experience strategy is what you need today.
After writing on Customer Experience (CX) for different business functions, we realized the need to explore Customer Experience as a holistic strategy that applies to the whole organization at large.
From an internal viewpoint of an organization, there are multiple stakeholders interacting with the same customer. There are various touchpoints a customer makes with an organization throughout their customer journey. It is easy to be lost in implementing CX in the siloed departments with each department playing different roles while interacting with the customer.
But, when you shift your focus from internal to external, that is, to the customer, you understand the need for a consistent brand experience for your customers. Ultimately, a CX strategy will help you achieve this goal.
All touchpoints with your customers should be so well-orchestrated that the customer shouldn’t notice that they are dealing with different departments. A well-connected brand experience should be consistent throughout their entire customer journey.
With the rapid digitalization of the modern world, our society is gradually turning into a bunch of communities joined together through common purposes. There are online social groups for people with similar interests, professional groups with similar profiles, employees of the same organization, etc. These groups help people share emotions and experiences and make them feel being a part of something greater than their separate selves.
Now, bring this concept into the community formed by a business and its customers. Can you instill that same level of solidarity in this group as in the above-mentioned communities? Probably not. It is difficult to rise above the relationship that is solely dependent on transactional dynamics. A customer is with you only because you are offering them a service for which they are paying you.
While this dynamic has worked for ages between a customer and a business, in recent uncertain times, businesses can no longer afford to continue in a similar fashion. To be sustainable for the long-term, they need to nurture deep relationships with their customers. And this is where Customer Experience comes into the picture. It has the capability to shift a customer’s perception from merely a benefit-based relationship to developing a deeper bond with an organization. And once you achieve that state, the results emanate in the form of customer loyalty, more business and, ultimately, brand advocacy.
The simple answer to this is everyone who interacts with the customer is responsible for generating a great customer experience in an organization. It can be achievable only when you infuse the customer experience strategy at every level – individual, managerial as well as the organizational level.
Leaders across each business unit have to understand ways to implement customer experience in their respective units. And, at the organizational level, a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) can be charged with ensuring that customer experience strategy is practiced and followed by everyone.
When it comes to the customer experience organizational structure, CX needs to be consistently practiced by related departments throughout the organization, especially:
CX is a value that everyone should understand from its core. It helps people think beyond their own perspective and start thinking from the customer’s perspective. A CXO must be responsible for turning an organization into a customer-centric one. And when that value is imbibed by each leader, it is more easily practiced throughout the organization.
Now let’s explore how customer experience can be successfully practiced in each of these departments.
Your interactions with your customers actually starts way before they contact you. Your marketing efforts start the process by making them aware of your product. Then it slowly transforms into giving more information about your product. This is the only phase in a customer journey where they are interacting with your brand without any one-to-one interaction. Once you receive their contact information and they become a Marketing Qualified Lead, you are well on your way to having a new customer.
Despite not yet interacting one-on-one with you, they are still interacting with your brand. The brand experience they are gaining through your marketing efforts plays a crucial role in shaping their perception towards your brand. It may not seem like it, but you are still in control of the customer experience during this phase. The only difference is, instead of interacting with a single customer, your efforts are driven towards entire customer segments.
So, let’s look at a few ways you can integrate CX into your marketing.
Marketing has a greater impact on generating leads when you integrate CX with it. Some ways to do so include:
In an intricately connected world, social proof means everything to influence a buyer’s decision. Keeping social engagement and encouraging feedback on social media platforms is extremely important. The fact is, over 92% of consumers consider online reviews to decide on their regular purchase from any brand. Customers with positive customer experience are more likely to leave positive reviews. Positive reviews start the customer experience off on the right foot, starting a successful CX cycle.
This is especially helpful for niche businesses. With your list of prospects and customers in-hand, a yearly survey of your customers will help you stay updated with their current challenges and preferences allowing you to shape your business strategy to align with your customer’s needs. And once you know what the customer wants, your marketing message can take shape accordingly.
Your most used marketing platform is your website. It’s important to leverage all the analytical tools that give you in-depth information about your consumer’s behavior on your website, including which pages they visited, the blogs they read, visits to your pricing page, etc.. All this information will tell you how effective your website is in converting visitors into a qualified lead. There are various strategies you can implement to increase conversions using this data, such as A/B testing, heatmaps and many more.
Sales is the first one-to-one interactions your prospects will have with your company. This is when you can leverage all the buyer’s information you have to influence them to buy your product. The more in-depth knowledge you have about a buyer’s persona, challenges they have and the types of questions they may ask, the better you would be able to deal with them.
Of course, you never want to over-promise your customers with something more than your product can offer right from the start. Especially for customer-centric organizations, it is very important to choose the right customers as opposed to finding any customers. Being truthful about your product will help achieve this. Done correctly, you will be able to sustain over long-term and increase the lifetime value of your customers.
As with other departments, to implement CX in sales, you need to understand your buyer. You have to design the buying process from the buyer’s point-of -view rather than from the sales point-of-view. Running through the entire process from a buyer’s viewpoint would reveal greater aspects of improvements that you can incorporate in the sales process. Here are some ways you can do this:
Identify different types of buyers you would be interacting with. Understand the kind of challenges and queries they might have. Then you can run through all the activities in the sales process through each persona and identify the gaps and improve them.
The touchpoints happening during sales are crucial since they can either make or break the deal. That is why it’s so important to engage strategically with your potential buyers. After giving them an initial walk-through, it’s always a good idea to leave a gap for them to absorb and revert with deeper enquiries. This will avoid overwhelming prospects with too much information. Likewise, it’s important to understand that buying decisions take time due to multiple stakeholders involved. You’ll need patience as you wait for the customers to get back to you when it is most convenient for them.
Unlike traditional sales approach, in the modern subscription-based companies, you have to work towards developing long-term relationships with the clients. This starts right from the sales process, and sometimes even before that. Adding value to your customers in every interaction is crucial and will eventually result in more business in the long-run.
When customer experience is applied to product management, it helps with the product experience, which is the overall experience a customer has from the time they log in to the product until they exit. A positive product experience is one that allows a user to fulfill their goal from start to finish, with ease. Product experience can be a crucial differentiator for you from your competitors and can take you a long way in retaining customers for long-term.
There are several ways to help implement CX into product management effectively, including:
For product designers and owners, it is easy to get lost in the features and lose sight of the usability aspect. Collecting feedback from your end-users can help you avoid this and is a useful method of driving product experience. Through feedback, you can ascertain how they feel about your product, or how effective your product is in solving their issues. Making improvements based on this feedback would be extremely helpful to enhance your product.
While feedback is important, you cannot solely depend on it for all of your information. You must be able to analyze the usage pattern of your product by your customers. Using an intelligent customer success platform can give you feature-wise usage patterns that reveal useful insights about the product. Which actions cause customers to use certain features, which features are redundant, how to make the most used features more accessible, etc.
All products should be in a constant state of enhancement for their end-users. And when you get the feedback on which features to include or build in your product, you must prioritize them to suit your customers. Your existing customers are your biggest contributor in giving you such feedback and impacting your product roadmap.
The customer service experience is the experience a customer gets while getting support from any brand. Although customer service’s end-goal is to solve customer issues, when CX becomes a part of it, it changes the way companies deliver their services to their customers.
This is one of the most crucial aspects to improve upon for business growth. Research shows that 70% of customers have left a brand due to poor experience with their customer service. It is paramount to educate your service team with the nuances of customer experience.
Blending customer experience strategies with your customer service could be the wisest decision you make in your organization. It will take proper training and understanding for your customer service team to shift their perspective. Here are some ways to do so:
You are, of course, there to solve your customers’ problems, but empathizing with their situation may be out of your realm. However, making an emotional connection with your customer will ultimately help you solve their issues. It helps customers become more comfortable with your brand and any possible grievances can be stated easily, without causing any harm.
By asking feedback from your customers immediately after a service call, you can add immense value to your business. Collecting feedback through surveys like Customer effort score, or Customer Satisfaction score would help you know the customer’s feelings about your brand. This would enable you to improve upon your servicing process continuously while sending a message to the customer that you actually care about how they feel.
Using software that has all the history of a customer before you start interacting with them is very useful in generating a great customer experience. When a customer doesn’t have to go through the tedious process of identifying themselves every time they interact with you, it makes them much more comfortable. When your service team interacts with a customer as if they know them personally, it creates a special bond between them.
We all know that customer success (CS) is really about helping your customers successfully use your product and succeed as a result of your product. In order to accomplish this goal, you need to engage with customers strategically and regularly. So, naturally, customer experience becomes an integral part of it because this will enhance the quality of your interaction that, in turn, would produce better results.
When customer success professionals understand the nuances of customer experience, it increases their efficacy in dealing with customers. Helping the customer achieve their goals is one thing, but helping them achieve the same goal with a much more positive experience leaves a greater impact on their feelings towards your brand.
Although customer success is known to generate more revenues through account expansion and client retention, it was found that a moderate increase in customer experience can generate $823 million for a business with an annual revenue of $1billion.
Here are some ways to integrate customer experience with customer success:
To integrate CX with customer success, leveraging emotional analytics will be a useful strategy from 2021 onwards. Although data-driven analytics are helpful in providing useful insights, emotional analytics allow companies to gain a full spectrum of their customers’ emotional personality, mood and sentiments. Understanding customers’ underlying emotions empowers CS professionals to generate deeper customer outcomes.
To produce greater results during customer interactions, CS professionals can initiate cross-functional collaborations. For example, studying the pattern of tickets raised by customers with customer service teams helps CS professionals to act proactively to eliminate such complaints in the future. Likewise, the sales and marketing team can collaborate with the CS team to create a sales pitch for further account expansion of the existing customers.
CS can exist without CX, but the qualitative aspect that CX can bring to the dynamic between them can add immense value. Through CX, for instance, you can learn how to enrich your relationship with customers and turn their grievances, if they come up, into opportunities.
Customer experience is all about developing customer trust. It is essentially the science of finding space in your customer’s subconscious. Through constant positive experiences, you can ensure your customer gets acclimated successfully to your brand. Eventually, your acclimated customers won’t have any reason to consider your competitors, which is when you officially have their loyalty.48
It’s important for the entire CX organization to live this value and work as a whole towards the goal of generating customer loyalty. Achieving this will result in success for both you and your customers moving forward.
Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.
Published 15 Jan 2021, Updated 26 Aug 2022
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